The country director for the African Development Bank (ADB), Margaret Kilo, has said some people called the Auditor General (AG) a government watchdog but that isn’t really what she does.
Mrs Kilo, who was giving the keynote address in a seminar on government of Sierra Leone finance and audit reports organized by the Coalition of Civil Society and Human Rights Activists –Sierra Leone (CCHRA-SL) and PKF Consultancy Limited in Freetown, said “[the] AG plays an important role in Sierra Leone’s governance systems”.
To me, she said, this was not so much a job as a public trust, adding that the AG was required to remain politically neutral.
The country director maintained that, “the AG’s role is to audit government’s operations and provide parliament, the media and most importantly civil society with information they need in their role of holding the government accountable for its stewardship of public funds”.
Mrs Kilo noted that today funding agencies were looking beyond activities and outputs to focus on actual results- the impacts and effects of their programmes, noting that, “they focus on what has been actually accomplished with public money spent”.
The AG, ADB’s country director pointed out, was to provide the information which social actors could use to ensure that government was results oriented.
The country director affirmed that civil society could help sensitize and educate citizens on the AG’s function and on issues of financial management and oversight.
The deputy auditor general, Joseph Syl- Bauns, said the audit service was used to assess the correctness of the use of tax of payers and development partners monies that were entrusted to public institutions.
He added that the audit service input all funds provided by stakeholders, and all claims on those funds fully recorded.
The deputy auditor general disclosed that they got funds from government and technical assistance from donors, adding that the auditors were been audited by public accounts committee who appointed auditors to audits the AG.
Mr Bauns revealed that the audit service recruited and fired staff and received funds from government to run their office.
In his presentation on the barriers to timely and efficient reporting of finance and audit information to the public, Cyprian Kamaray who deputized the financial secretary said, “the government has in recent years through its public financial management process placed emphasis on three aspects of public expenditure management: participation, accountability and transparency.
He said, “the laws specify time deadline for the submission of public accounts by the accountant general, however there, exist a number of barriers to the public which provision of timely and accurate financial information to the public which caused a huge backlog that have now been addressed”.
These constraints or barriers, he said, included lack of technically robust organic budget law, lack of technically robust computerized accounting system, lack of qualified accounting personnel and lack of automated bank reconciliation facility.
Charles Mambu, the director of CCHRA-SL, said “Sierra Leone is rated by the international management watchdog- Transparency International (TI)- as one of the most corrupt countries in the world”.